Neurorehabilitation from a brain injury involves learning and re-learning a long list of common activities. Patients spend hours honing skills such as naming well-known items, transferring to and from a wheelchair and using adaptive equipment. Therapy sessions often consist of countless repetitions of the same action, drilling these essential skills over and over (and over). Further, therapists will usually send patients home with discharge plans outlining continued practicing of these same skills at home. Sometimes, patients will wonder why they have to practice these activities to such a degree. After all, if they demonstrated the skill once (or more likely a multitude of times throughout inpatient therapy) doesn’t that serve as proof positive that they now possess said skill? Why is this repeated practice necessary?
In reality, to truly become proficient at any skill a great deal of of practice is necessary. Just because a patient has succeeded at demonstrating a skill on one occasion does not mean that he or she will succeed in the future. This is true for any life activity or field of endeavor. For instance, imagine hearing the following overhead announcement while taxiing an airport runway prior to takeoff: “Ladies and gentleman, welcome aboard flight 683 to Phoenix. My name is Captain Mike and I will be your pilot today. I have successfully flown a plane once. I anticipate a smooth flight today.” After hearing this announcement, most passengers would probably scream for the exits immediately. Who would trust a pilot to fly a plane with a history of only one successful attempt? We instinctively recognize that lots of practice is necessary to trust that a person can reliably and competently complete a given task. This holds just as true for therapy as it does for the for flying of a plane. Repeated practice, both in therapy and at home, is necessary for a patient to hone the skills and competencies necessary to successfully accomplish rehabilitation goals. It is only through practice that patients can become proficient.
Learn about brain injury treatment services at the Transitional Learning Center! Visit us at: tlcrehab.org